In like a lion…out like a lion? March weather was predicted to be wild, and so far its living up to its name with large temperature swings.
Severe weather season is now upon the state, too. State Climatologist Dr. Trent Ford says that long-term models show that the state may be in for an active tornado season, as studies now show that the traditional Tornado Alley over the Great Plains is somewhat shifting east: “So at the same time we’ve actually seen a small decrease in tornadoes in the last 40-50 years in traditional Tornado Alley, we’ve seen a small increase in [tornadoes] closer to the eastern U.S. including parts of Illinois. That’s sort of the long-term trend. At the same time, we’re coming into a meteorological and chronological Spring, which is March through May, and generally Spring through early Summer is kind of our peak time of severe weather. I will say that tornadoes and other forms of severe weather can and do occur all year long as evidenced by the tornado outbreak we saw across Iowa and portions of Central Illinois this past December.”
Ford says what makes this year so unique is that the weather is coming out of a La Nina pattern. He says that some La Nina years are more active than others. He wants to caution the public that it’s too difficult to say just how many tornadoes will touch down in the state this Spring: “Using some of the long-term trends and some of the large-scale patterns that we are seeing right now does lean to maybe a higher likelihood of having a bit more active severe weather. I do again want to caution against saying that there is going to be a lot more tornadoes around Illinois than in the past years just because there is so much variability from year to year.”
Ford says March 2022 has lived up to its name with the temperature swings and various amounts of precipitation. He says long-term models show that precipitation will be up in most areas of Central Illinois, but predictions don’t show any delay to the upcoming planting season for crops.